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The Young Prefer IM to E-mail - Study

The majority of teens and young adults use instant messaging more than email, and an increasing number of people across age groups are sending IMs from their mobile phones, a survey from America Online Inc. found.
The majority of teens and young adults use instant messaging more than email, and an increasing number of people across age groups are sending IMs from their mobile phones, a survey released Thursday from America Online Inc. found.

Two-thirds of teens and young adults between the ages of 13 and 21 said they use instant messaging more than email, which is up from 49 percent last year, AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc., said. In addition, a third of IM users in general said they send IMs, or text messages, from their mobile phones at least once a week. Last year, only 19 percent said they used mobile instant messaging.

Overall, 38 percent of the more than 4,000 people surveyed said they were sending as many or more IMs than emails, AOL said. Nearly 6 in 10 send instant messages to communicate with colleagues at work, and nearly half to get answers and make business decisions.

A significant number of people, 26 percent, said they wanted live streaming TV on their IM service. Music on demand came in second at 25 percent, followed by video on demand, 21 percent.

One in 5 said they currently use, or would like to use, their IM service to make voice calls to other computers, landlines and mobile phones. Another 12 percent said they would be interested in replacing their primary household phone line with an IM-based Internet telephone service.

Nearly half of teens and young adults change their away messages every day to let others know where they are, to list a cell-phone number or alternate way to be reached, or to post a favorite lyric or quote. Some have used the away message to post a call to action, like “Please donate to the Red Cross to help hurricane victims,” the Dulles, Va., Web portal, said.

The fondness for IM among young people was also noted in a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The researcher found that three quarters of teenagers use IM, and the average amount of time spent sending the quick electronic notes has increased over the last four years.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing